June 28

The Invaluable Lesson I Learned From My Friend’s $20k+ Debt and What It Can Teach You


"Are you out of your fucking mind?" I scolded my friend as I looked at his credit card bills in disbelief.

Despite having a job that paid him well, he racked up over $20,000 in debt.

You know what got him into debt?


Addiction to mindless consumer spending...

He was interested in making short films, so he started buying books and watching videos on YouTube on film making.

That led him to a rabbit hole of buying expensive video gear and shelling out thousands of dollars for online courses and software.

When I went to his room, I was shocked.

There were iMacs with multiple monitors, high end video cameras, tripods of varying shapes and sizes, microphones, camera lights, lighting kits, boom poles, shock mounts, headphones, audio recorders, external hard drives in addition to a host of other gadgets and gizmos that I wasn't familiar with.

It felt like a room of a professional ad agency.

I said, "No wonder, you are in debt, how many short films have you made?"

Then came his mind-boggling reply.

"None, I still have a lot to learn..."

I stood there in utter disbelief and shock, unable to pay attention to the rest of what he said.

This is exactly what James Clear reveals in his book 'Atomic Habits' as the difference between being in motion vs taking action.

He explains:

"If I outline 20 ideas for articles I want to write, that’s motion. If I actually write and publish an article, that’s action.

If I email 10 new leads for my business and start conversations with them, that’s motion. If they actually buy something and turn into a customer, that’s action.

If I search for a better diet plan and read a few books on the topic, that’s motion. If I actually eat a healthy meal, that’s action.

If I go to the gym and ask about getting a personal trainer, that’s motion. If I actually step under the bar and start squatting, that’s action.

If I study for a test or prepare for a research project, that’s motion. If I actually take the test or write my research paper, that’s action."

My friend was doing the same - not taking any action and was happy 'being in motion.'

There are plenty of times I have done something similar.

Instead of going for a simple walk, I would watch workout videos on YouTube.

Instead of doing a simple 5 minute meditation, I would waste time learning about the benefits of meditation - which I already knew.

Instead of drinking a green smoothie or adding leafy vegetables to my diet, I would read about superfoods and healthy recipes.

Instead of writing a blog post, I would spend hours learning about how to write.

Instead of cleaning and organizing my room, I would endlessly gorge on Ted Talks on the importance of decluttering and minimalism.

As James wisely points out in the video, "if you find yourself in a stage where your planning has become a form of procrastination, then you are planning too much."

And I would also add that the lack of action stems from a deep fear of failure.

Think about it.

It's so much fun to learn about new hacks and little-known secrets than actually do what we already know because the moment we take action we are confronted by our inner critic which relishes at the tiniest struggle - constantly questioning our worth, constantly judging and shaming us and constantly belittling how insignificant we are.

And when we do fail - which we should expect in any learning process - our inner critic immediately cranks up its volume to revel in our failure and swiftly reinforces our imposter syndrome and self-doubt.

The key to overcoming the fear of failure is to first understand that the fear is natural and you don't necessarily have to get rid of the fear.

Most importantly, realize that you have a choice:

Choice to act despite having the fear of failure.

As for my friend, he eventually found out that he really didn't like making films as much as he enjoyed learning about making them.

He was just going through a rough patch and was desperate for attention and recognition. He thought by making short films, he would become popular but as soon as he attempted making his first short film, he found the process extremely laborious and boring.

Moral of the story - plan but take action, take action but be prepared to fail, fail but be willing to learn, learn but be prepared to implement what you learned.


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